Anemia is more common than you might think. The WHO estimates that around 40% of the world’s population suffers from anemia. When you’re pregnant, there’s a higher risk of developing anemia because your body needs to make more red blood cells to help feed your baby.
There are more than 400 different types of anemia, but some forms of anemia such as anemia caused by an iron vitamin B12 or folate deficiency are more common in pregnant women.
If you are anemic and don’t have enough red blood corpuscles in your blood, your baby won’t get proper nourishment and anemia has been linked to several pregnancy complications including pre-term delivery and birth defects.
Prevention of Anemia
The best way to prevent anemia is by eating the right type of foods. For a start, you should eat plenty of iron rich foods like lean red meat, eggs, dark-green leafy green veg, seeds, nuts, beans, lentils and tofu. You need about three servings of iron-rich food every day, and because it can be difficult fitting enough of the right foods into your diet, you should take an iron rich supplement.
Your body also needs vitamin C in order to absorb iron into the bloodstream. Eat lots of fresh fruits like oranges, strawberries and kiwis and add tomatoes and bell peppers to your salads.
Whenever you eat a portion of iron rich food, include one of the vitamin C rich foods so that your body is able to use the iron in the food you are eating.
Treatment of Anemia
If you develop anemia during pregnancy, your doctor will consult with you about your diet and also prescribe nutritional supplements. In very rare cases, a blood transfusion is required, so anemia should be taken seriously and you should follow your doctor’s advice carefully.
Even if you have a good supply of supplements, you should still concentrate on getting your diet right and eat plenty of iron rich foods together with vitamin C rich foods. You can also get foods that are fortified with extra iron, B12 and folate.
Be alert for the symptoms of anemia and consult your doctor if you experience feelings of fatigue, dizziness, unusual shortness of breath or pain in your chest. If you are suffering from anemia, your skin, lips and nails will be paler than usual. Doctors usually monitor your blood for signs of anemia during pregnancy, so if you have anemia, the chances are good that it will be picked up in time.